market traders parking protest
A group of traders in Newport have banned Labour council members from their businesses in protest over free parking being stopped.
Steve Reynolds, owner of Toy Army in Newport Market, launched the campaign after councillors voted against a motion which would have saved the city’s two-hour free parking.
Other businesses in the market have followed.
Newport Labour councillor Debbie Harvey said the move was “outrageous”.
Mr Reynolds said: “I had just had enough. It’s been one thing after another.
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Considering they’re crying out for trade, banning 30-odd councillors is ridiculous”
Councillor Debbie Harvey
“We’ve been asking the council for help and relief.”
The motion was brought by opposition leader Matthew Evans urging the council to reverse its decision to axe the scheme, which allows shoppers to park for free for the first two hours in all its city centre car parks.
The motion was defeated with 10 councillors voting for it, 32 against and one abstaining.
Other businesses who have joined the campaign include Sys Barbers, Turner’s Butchers, Mr Fruit, City Fashions, Kriminal records, Negative Zone comic store and Chillis sweet shop.
Mr Reynolds said: “We’re really struggling as it is here. Myself and other traders are round about 60 to 70% down on last Christmas already.
“There’s no draw to this town as it is and this is going to do more damage. People just aren’t going to pay.”‘Absolutely outrageous’
But Labour councillor Debbie Harvey, of Alway ward, said the current administration had been left with millions of pounds of debt by the previous Conservative-Liberal Democrat administration so cutbacks had to be made.
“I think it’s absolutely outrageous. Considering they’re crying out for trade, banning 30-odd councillors is ridiculous. This definitely isn’t the way to tackle it,” she said.
“If you ask people on the street if they would rather pay 33p an hour to park or for people to lose their jobs, I’m sure 99.9% would say they would rather pay.
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I proposed an alternative plan which is a voucher scheme, but it fell on deaf ears”
Councillor Chris Evans
“What they haven’t factored in is the five hours free parking between now and February.
“I feel for them but I feel for every business not just the market traders. There’s the whole of town as well but unfortunately with the debt we have got, it’s got to be tackled.
“In the current climate everyone has to tighten their belts.”
Councillor for Rogerstone Chris Evans said that he was the only Labour councillor not banned because he had abstained on the parking issue.
“The entire Labour group with the exception of myself voted to withdraw free parking. I proposed an alternative plan which is a voucher scheme, but it fell on deaf ears,” he said.
Mr Evans said the market is a council building and he had heard that some Labour councillors were disgruntled by the traders’ decision.
“But this is the consequence. The traders are at the end of their tether. They feel this potentially could be the last straw. This is make or break time for many businesses,” he said.
Ringland councillor Emma Corten told her followers on Twitter: “So I’ve just been told that as a Labour Councillor I’ve been banned from shopping in Newport Market. That’ll help, I’m sure.”
Read on: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-20810302